Success! After a month of trial and error (and more error), I’ve finally found a way to reliably turn on Trinity over the internet. Wake-on-LAN—you know, that feature where your computer’s onboard ethernet adapter listens to the internet for a magic packet of data telling it to wake up your computer. Why do I want to do this? I want to access Trinity on the go and on command via LogMeIn, without running her 24/7. That wouldn’t be very green now would it? I was really close after reading a guide on lifehacker, but somehow I couldn’t crack it. I could only achieve my goal from within my own wireless network at home, not very useful when I cross the pond. It seems after a period of about thirty minutes, dormant devices disappear from the router’s ARP cache, making it invisible to magic packet bursts sent from the outside of your home network (or so I’ve read). The solution? I needed better tools.

The stock Linksys firmware of my WRT54GS2 is ok, but it lacks several advanced features, mainly WOL. TomatoUSB is free*, open source firmware, written by third parties giving you greater control of your router’s settings and capabilities. I’ve heard good things about DD-WRT, it seems to reign in popularity, but TomatoUSB is a bit simpler to install so—yea, I went with TomatoUSB. The great thing about it is there’s a WOL feature built right into the interface. Simply log into the router, click the “WOL” heading, find your machine, and click on it to wake it up. Easy peasy. It seems the trick to doing this from outside your network is setting up remote access to your router. Doing so requires knowing your external IP address, the one given to you by your ISP [You can check it at whatsmyip.org]. The other problem with that is, sometimes they change it without telling you, and if you’re not at home to spot the address change you’ll be essentially locked out. No matter, that problem has been solved.

Want to know how to do this for yourself? Read the rest of this entry »

Cool vs. Noise — a delicate balance in my quest for the silence of the fans. I ask myself, “just how many fans are too many before I find myself having to crank up the volume on a riveting scene of Burn Notice?” Fans do the job, but they can be annoyingly loud for the purposes of home entertainment.

One of the problems I’m having with Trinity’s fan setup is airflow optimization. There really isn’t enough space to direct air in a straight path over the components I want to keep cool, mainly the CPU. From the power supply, to the mess of wiring, air is buffeting around the case’s many obstacles. I’ve tidied things up quite a bit with wire sheathing and cable ties, but it’s still pretty messy. Read the rest of this entry »

Soon after successfully getting Trinity up and running I was already thinking of ways to improve her. One of the things bugging me were those two front facing USB ports.
Plugging-in my keyboard and wireless mouse left me with no open ports up front for say, a quick external hard drive transfer. I noticed that the motherboard had an extra internal USB header and thought adding more ports should be a snap. While I was at it, I could throw in an SD card reader for off-loading my camera or phone. There was one problem: How would I implement it? Most SD card readers on the market come in the form of USB dongles or 3.5″ bay devices designed to fit inside the case. I was already using the one 3.5″ bay I had for the hard drive and I really hate dongles. This needed to be built-in. Read the rest of this entry »

Drawing upon what I learned with Silvia, I was beginning to think about building my own computer. Didn’t look that hard to build, the real hard part seemed to be finding the right parts for a good price with an upgrade path. I read a few posts over on lifehacker but the price just wasn’t right, not if wanted to use new components. So I put it off until I could either find a good deal, or maybe a decent bare bones kit that met my needs right now and could be upgraded later.

Around this time I had also read a few lifehacker posts on building a hackintosh. They referenced tonymacx86, so I started reading his blog as well. I was always curious about macs. We had a Mac lab in one of my high schools, and since I grew up mainly on PCs, they just seemed odd with their single button mouse and multicolored plastic. Obviously since then Apple has blossomed quite a bit (if only I bought stock). Now macs are in vogue or some sort of personal brand statement. I was always too counter culture to buy in, and as a tinkerer, I hate when companies put measures in place to prevent me from taking a look inside or tell me to leave such things to “professionals”. How insulting. I hate that almost as much as I hate the RadioShack guy suggesting I purchase $50+ HDMI cables. Enter the CustoMac Mini 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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